I have a bookshelf speaker on the test again in a new Klipsch RP-160M review.
In the offer of the American manufacturer, the RP-160M model is in the middle of the field in terms of price, but it must be admitted that these bookshelf speakers aspire to be one of the best monitors that Klipsch has produced in the last few years.
There are many factors to this, the most important of which is that the Klipsch RP-160M is based on the latest and, as recent tests have shown, the best-sounding version of the Tractrix Horn tweeter. The tweeter tube in Klipsch designs plays a key role. The whole philosophy of the sound of all the loudspeakers that the American giant has launched for sale is based on this driver. In addition to high efficiency, the Klipsch loudspeakers are characterized by unparalleled dynamics and energetic sound. Although American-made horn drivers completely contradict the stereotypes that arose many years ago about this type of loudspeaker. Klipsch continues to research and develop its loudspeakers. It’s all about the sound that keeps improving. The RP-160M is a two-way, bookshelf design with all the latest technological advances recently developed by Klipsch.
These American monitors are based primarily on the newly developed titanium tweeter from the Tractrix Horn. The manufacturer also decided to use an even lighter and stiffer Cerametallic diaphragm for the mid-woofer, thanks to which the bass and midrange should be more precise in reproducing all rhythmic nuances. In older models, the speakers reproducing midrange and bass featured IMG graphite diaphragms – they were primarily characterized by a plastic and full sound, but still, they did not have such outstanding dynamics as the good old Cerametallic cones offered. . That is why the manufacturer returned to the Cerametallic cones, not only because of the sonic qualities they offer but to fit the new Tractrix Horn drivers with their character. The design of the RP-160M, as with all other speakers in the new Reference Premium range, has been changed to an even more modern design.
This speaker is equipped with a characteristic permanently mounted plinth (by the way, a similar solution is also used by Tannoy in the latest Revolution series, but there the plinth is connected to the bottom wall by means of chrome sleeves), which gives the speakers an interesting look, but also effectively eliminates vibrations. As a result, the wall is weighted down and less susceptible to vibrations. The tested Klipsch RP-160M monitors also use a specific rectangular bass-reflex port, which is located on the back, just above the individual input terminals. It is hard not to notice that the shape of the resonance tunnel resembles the Tractrix Horn tubes, but on closer inspection, it turns out that its shape is slightly different, especially when it comes to the internal walls of the outlet, which is responsible for the better scattering of low-frequency waves without increasing audible turbulence during the operation of the diaphragm.
The new front panel is covered with a polymer brushed veneer, which gives it an interesting and original look. In addition, the front looks great, because the manufacturer has decided to use a magnetic mounting system for the grilles, thanks to which the previously unsightly bolt holes have disappeared from the front panel. In addition, the mounting holes and screws for the mid-woofer have been masked with a decorative ring. To sum up – the front of the new series of Reference Premium speakers looks better than ever. The boxes are damped with synthetic wool with which all internal walls are lined. On the other hand, the vinyl foil, which covers all the walls except the front (which, regardless of the color option, always remains the same), is available in two versions: ebony or cherry. Naturally, the manufacturer added rubber pads to the loudspeakers, which not only protect the plinth and the surface on which the loudspeakers stand from accidental scratching but also dampen vibrations.
Klipsch RP-160M Specifications
- Frequency response: 45-25kHz +/- 3dB
- Sensitivity: 96dB @ 2.83V / 1m
- Power handling (cont/peak): 100W/400W
- Nominal impedance: 8 Ohms compatible
- Crossover frequency: 1500Hz
- High-frequency driver: 1″ Titanium LTS Tweeter with Hybrid Tractrix Horn
- Low-frequency driver: 6.5″ Cerametallic Cone Woofer
- Enclosure material: MDF
- Enclosure type: Bass Reflex via rear-firing Tractrix port
- Inputs: Dual binding posts/bi-wire/bi-amp
- Height: 16.67” (42.4 cm)
- Width: 8.81” (22.4 cm)
- Depth: 12.86” (32.7 cm)
- Weight 19.9 lb (9.03 kg)
- Finish: Ebony, Cherry
You can download the manual here->Klipsch RP-160M Manual
The Klipsch RP-160M offers a rare sound not only in their price category but also among monitors of this size in general. First of all, I mean the ability to reproduce a soundstage of a size similar to what floor-standing speakers can offer. In fact, from the very first minutes of listening, the RP-160M immediately attracts attention. The sound picture is large, but also widely and precisely spaced so that even less well-listened people will immediately notice this aspect. I started my tests with modern jazz performed by Lee Ritenour. From the very first tones, the sound of a large dynamic scale reached my ears, and the individual sound images were shown in their natural sizes. Each of the instruments was sharply focused, and thanks to the size adequate to those that can be found in real life, one could get the impression that the sound generated by the RP-160M is as if these American monitors were large floor-standing speakers.
The new tweeter with an improved tube of the Tractrix Horn certainly contributes to the creation of such a style of playing, but the more modern mid-bass unit with a composite Cerametallic diaphragm also plays a role in all of this. The fact that tweeter has a significant impact on the reproduction of the sound stage, but on the other hand, it is also important to emphasize the sound in the mid and low range and reproduce these frequency ranges with precision and energy. And the newest Klipsch bookshelf speakers certainly don’t lack it. It is clear that these American monitors sound more open, especially in the mid and treble range, but at the same time, the sound did not become more aggressive.
The music played turned out to be more subtle and refined than in the previous designs of this manufacturer. Klipsch may not come close to the sound character with his horn tweeter that much, for example, to the delicate soft domes, such as the Danish Dynaudio uses in their loudspeakers, but my attention was immediately drawn to the fact that the treble reproduced by the Tractrix Horn has more delicacy and subtlety than ever. Of course, you can still hear that distinctive heat and energy, making rock music and other energetic musical genres played by the Klipsch RP-160M sound as they should. Because due to the sonic qualities of these loudspeakers, it seems that there are no more ideal loudspeakers, for example for playing rock, at this price. Regardless of whether the player’s tray was loaded with material with the music of Steve Vai, a guitar virtuoso, or solo releases with the psychedelic rock by Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree, I always reached my ears with a compact and energetic sound, richly diversified, which turned out to be an undoubted advantage, especially when listening to complex music performed by Steven Wilson.
Throughout the entire frequency range, the RP-160M turns out to be a very communicative loudspeaker, catching many nuances and details from the music. Undoubtedly, they are helped by a kind of uncompromising attitude in reproducing high and medium tones, typical for loudspeakers equipped with horn drivers. On the other hand, lovers of extreme subtlety and delicacy may feel a bit disappointed with the directness with which these American monitors sound. However, if their sound were more universal, many people would find it simply boring. Undoubtedly, the RP-160M is the fastest loudspeaker in its price range, which means that they react very quickly to changes in rhythm, which can be heard especially when the volume or intensity of playing particular instruments increases – sound piles increase rapidly, and this, in turn, takes place with great control. A big advantage of the tested monitors is the fact that thanks to their above-average efficiency, they are an ideal partner for tube amplifiers, especially those designs that do not have too many watts.
If you have a not-very-powerful tube amplification and you want to listen to rock, with a relatively small budget you can become the owner of loudspeakers that will surely turn out to be an ideal element of such a stereo setup. For example, the Reisong A10 EL34 with Klipsch RP-160M created a very successful duo because, despite the low power of this small Japanese amplifier, I managed to obtain a dynamic sound with a scale typical of much stronger combinations. Apart from that, due to its direct character, the sound of the RP-160M in combination with the tube amplifier is a bit softer, which in the end may convince even people who do not necessarily like the too direct style of playing, as generally presented by the Klipsch loudspeakers.
When it comes to bass, it has a range that sounds like it comes from floor-standing speakers. Naturally, the RP-160M are monitors and, like any such design, they have some shortcomings in the bass, but thanks to the unprecedented dynamics and volume in the bass range, the limitations related to the processing of the depth of the low components practically stop disturbing during the listening session. Of course, if you like large symphonies, it may turn out that the bookshelf speakers may not be enough for you. But on the other hand, in rooms with an area of up to 20 square meters, the amount of bass is sufficient, so only a few and very sensitive listeners may feel a slight insufficiency related to the depth of low tones.
This mainly applies to music based on instruments that go really low, because even with dance and club music you will not feel the difference between the Klipsch RP-160M bookshelf speakers and other floor-standing speakers. I must also emphasize that the RP-160M are loudspeakers that are relatively easy to set up because even when they are close to the walls, for example on a chest of drawers, you will not experience any adverse interactions with the room. Yes, the bass will gain mass and slow down a bit, but it will still hold its resonance and, most importantly, your ears will not hear the unpleasant rumble associated with boosting the upper bass parts. However, when it comes to space and the amazing ability of these American speakers to build a huge stereo picture, you will definitely get the best results by placing them on stands like this one:
Good to Know
While in the case of classic tweeters, the material from which the dome itself is naturally the most important and influencing the sound, in the case of horn loudspeakers a lot depends not so much on the diaphragm itself, but above all on the tube. The example of many manufacturers shows that the tubes can take various shapes and be made of various materials. Klipsch took a similar path to JBL and began using rectangular tubes many years ago, but over time they began to take slightly different shapes. The breakthrough was the tubes from the Icon series tweeters, which probably contributed to the way the Tractrix Horn tubes, used in the latest Reference Premium loudspeakers line, look today. The sound of the horn tweeter can have a different character depending on the shape and material of the tube. That is why the newest Tractrix Horn tubes have been developed in such a way as to combine the sound features typical of classic horn and horn designs in the best possible style. As a result, the Reference Premium series loudspeakers sound much better than the previous models, especially in the treble range, and at the same time have lost nothing of their trademark – expressive and energetic sound.
Klipsch RP-160M Video Review
Klipsch RP-160M Review – Final Verdict
The new monitors the American manufacturer offer have every reason to become one of the best bookshelf speakers on the market in general. The changed Tractrix Horn tube does a great job, of supporting and, in principle, is largely responsible for the characteristics of the titanium tweeter. But no less in this respect is the characteristic, copper-colored Cerametallic cone, which was primarily created to match the above-average performance driver tweeter. This fantastic speaker duo means that the music that reaches our ears is characterized primarily by dynamics unparalleled at this price, both on the micro and macro scale. In addition, the new RP-160M builds a large sound stage with an almost life-size image, which can be considered a phenomenon not only due to the price of these loudspeakers but also the fact that they are bookshelf loudspeakers. Like most of the Klipsch designs, the RP-160M is also the perfect partner for moderately powerful tube amplifiers – thanks to their high efficiency, you can get more than decent volume levels by driving them with just a few watt tube amps.
Klipsch RP-160M Pro & Cons
- They offer you amazing quality sound
- They have a great sensitivity
- Their tweeter is an LTS Titanium one
- They come equipped with a copper-spun, Cerametallic cone woofer
- They also come with a 90×90 hybrid Tractrix horn and a Tractrix port
- The speakers are a bit big and heavy when it comes to bookshelf speakers